In the West St. Paul municipal election this year the mayor and three City Council members are on the ballot. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.
The West St. Paul Police Department is fully funded and expanding in the 2023 budget. What additional changes or improvements would you support to increase public safety?
Here are the candidates’ responses:
Candidates for Mayor
This is an uncontested race.
We have added officers and firefighters. I will continue to make sure they have the resources they need to keep our community safe.
Candidates for City Council Ward 1
Policing which targets criminal activity and reacts to timely issues is vital. An example is catalytic converter theft, which the city is currently fighting through sticker distribution to discourage theft. The police promote annual National Night Out and we can help by getting to know and interact with our neighbors. If we know each other we are much more likely to look out for each other, share information about things we have seen, and discourage problems by showing anyone who means ill will that we are united against them.
As crime is a hot issue, the state and federal governments have been discussing measures to combat it. We should stay in close touch with our state legislators and member of Congress to ensure that we are at the table for any funding or programs that could result from these discussions. I would like to see the state, county or city offer a financial incentive to offset costs for property owners who install cameras that can record activity beyond just their own property. Finally, keeping our neighborhoods clean and orderly discourages criminal behavior as such behavior thrives on disorder. We must continue to support and recognize our police reserves who are the envy of many a community and help in so many ways.
Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson
Adding Black officers and a youth focused mentor program that takes officers out of uniform while engaging and developing relationships with youths of color.
Candidates for City Council Ward 2
This is an uncontested race.
John Justen did not respond to our questionnaire.
Candidates for City Council Ward 3
There are always improvements that can be made in the public safety realm. I would support a heavy focus on how we respond to mental health calls. We already have partnerships with Dakota County and a caseworker, but that’s not 24-hour coverage and mental health doesn’t quit just because the work day has ended.
I’d like for us to further explore the idea of developing a fire district in the future with our surrounding communities, which is something I’ve had ongoing discussions about as a member of the South Metro Fire Department Board of Directors. It would help us be more efficient when addressing the needs of our residents in crisis situations, and also potentially help us be more cost-effective when purchasing high dollar equipment.
I would also like to see West St. Paul dive into learning more about environmental design and how it can have an impact on public safety by the way we design our roads, how we light our sidewalks and trails, and what we plant in our green spaces. Looking at crime prevention through this sort of design also promotes community building, which is a positive thing for our city.
Jake Nelson has dropped out of the race and did not participate in our questionnaire, but will still appear on the ballot.
Vote on November 8
See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.
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